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LING 4060/6060

Old English
Credit Hours:

Class Meetings: MWF 3:00-3:50 p.m. Park Hall 269
Instructor: Jonathan Evans. 335 Park Hall;; 706.542-2229.
Office hours immed. after class, or by appointment, or via Zoom.

Overview:  This is a course in the Old English language; the goal is for students to learn how to pronounce, read, and translate Old English prose and, near the end of the semester, Old English poetry. In some respects, the course is similar to any a course in any modern foreign language, with vocabulary quizzes, grammar tests, and translation exercises.  

For many years up to 2020, course-offerings in Old English were cross-listed to the Linguistics Department; in recent years, however, the two courses have been split into two separate offerings, accommodating English majors and Linguistics majors separately.  For English majors, the course satisfies the Group 1A “Early Literature of the British Isles” and/or Group IV: “Language, Criticism, and Culture” distribution requirements for the major; it is also a prerequisite for follow-up Old English literature courses, including ENGL 4220/6220 Beowulf (Spring 2023), ENGL 4210/6210 Old English Literature (Spring 2024), and (for graduate students) 8000-level seminars in Old English.  For Linguistics undergraduates, LING 4060 counts as an “in-major” elective; for Linguistics graduate students, LING 6060 counts towards the Historical Linguistics area of emphasis and as an elective in any other area. For everyone else, undergraduates and graduate students in any major, it also counts as the most important general elective any student could contemplate taking.
    Students who have had courses in a more highly-inflected language like Latin or German, or an introductory linguistics course such as LING 2100 (or more advanced courses in historical linguistics and other old Germanic languages) will have an advantage over those who have not; but for those with no formal linguistic background, for whom this course is consciously and specifically intended, the first few lessons will include general comments on phonology and phonetics, grammatical inflections – e.g., noun declensions and verb conjugations – and the syntax of OE sentences, making every effort to accommodate students whose familiarity with grammatical categories and linguistic terminology is moribund or nonexistent. The last weeks of the semester are spent on translation of more lengthy passages of OE prose and some poetry.    

Note: Honors Option is available for this course: see Instructor for further details.

Assignments, Requirements, Written Work:  For the first 8 to 12 weeks, students will learn the rudiments of pronunciation, the essential grammar, and the basic vocabulary conducive for producing accurate written translations. We will expend no effort on learning “conversational Old English,” however, and in this sense ENGL 4060/6060 is less like a course in, e.g., modern German or Japanese, and more like a traditional course in classical Greek or Latin. A good bit of the in-class activity is devoted to presentation and discussion of the functions of various categories of the Old English parts of speech, with students reading aloud their translations of sentences and paragraphs appearing in the lessons and discussion of translation difficulties encountered, with helpful suggestions from the instructor. I administer many short quizzes, and the greatest part of the final course grade is the aggregated score on all these, converted to a percentage of a 100-point scale.
    Nota bene: In recent years, the number of quizzes over the course of the semester has averaged about two per week, and although the stakes for these quizzes individually has been small – generally, averaging about 20 points per quiz – the amount of class-time, as well as short-term anxiety associated with these quizzes, justifiably may have seemed excessive to some students. For this semester I will attempt to limit the number of quizzes will without sacrificing their utility as a mechanism for mastering the grammar and vocabulary.  It is, in any event, something of a balancing act.

Required text:  
        Evans, Jonathan. An Introduction to Old English. New York: MLA, 2021. ISBN 9781603293112.

Supplementary (non-required) texts:  
    Hall, John R. Clark. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, ISBN 0802065481
    Quirk, Randolph, and C.L. Wrenn,  Old English Grammar, ISBN 0875805604. 
    Moore, Samuel, et al., Elements of Old English, ISBN 9781556357800.

Grading: Short quizzes on paradigms – e.g., definite articles, pronouns, noun declensions, verb conjugations, etc.– will be given on average once or maybe twice per week (see nota bene above).  Throughout the textbook there are written exercises that may be assigned from time to time for out-of-class, and maybe online, homework. From time to time I may ask students to upload their translations of the readings for particular lessons to an “Assignments” dropbox in the ELC course. There may well be two tests on verb conjugations and a test on noun declensions. There will be a final exam.
    Quizzes, homework assignments, and tests are graded a simple point system; the Final Exam will be graded on a 100-point system. The total accumulated grade points will be converted to percentages and assigned letter-grades as follows: 93-100=A; 90-92=A-; 87-89=B+; 83-86=B; 80-82=B-; 77-79=C+; 73-76=C; 70-72=C-, etc. The final course grade will be calculated as follows:

    Quizzes            33%
    Tests; translations        33%
    Final examination         33%
    Inert Ingredients          1%    

Historically, students have done very well on quizzes and homework, while test-scores and scores on the Final Exam have tended to result in a downward adjustment to what might possibly be inflated grades. Mathematically, the most important single component of the course is the Final Exam.

Attendance; absence: I will not be taking attendance in a formal way but I encourage you not to miss any class-days if you can help it. Absences for reasonable excuse (illness, unavoidable travel for weddings & funerals, etc., will be given reasonably positive consideration.

(LING2100 or LING2100E or LING2100H) or ENGL(LING) 3030 or any two 2000-level ENGL courses or (one 2000-level ENGL course and one 2000-level CMLT course)
POD (Graduate prerequisite)
Semester Offered:

Instructors of this Course

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